A Firm Foundation, Part 3

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There has been a hymn on my mind this whole week while talking about Jesus being our firm foundation. This hymn is called How Firm A Foundation. But I came across it today during my devotional time and thought I would share a little about this hymn. I know it’s not Sunday, but it fits with the theme this week!

Each of the four stanzas are reflections of a promise made in the Bible. The first is Isaiah 41:10, “Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My right hand.” (NASB). This is a promise that God is delivering to the people of Israel through Isaiah to let them know that He is with them. The author of this hymn took this promise and brought it to the followers of Jesus. It starts by telling us that Scriptures are our foundation and what more can God tell us, since we found Him in Jesus. God strengthens us when we center our lives around Jesus. And since Jesus is our firm foundation, it makes complete sense.

“How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word!
What more can He say than to you He hath said,
To you who for refuge to Jesus have fled?”

The second promise is Isaiah 43:2, “When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.” (NLT). God is furthering His promise to the people of Israel. He is telling them that since He has redeemed them, He will stay with them through all of their circumstances.

“Fear not; I am with thee. O be not dismayed,
For I am thy God, I will still give thee aid.
I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, And cause thee to stand,
Upheld by My righteous, Omnipotent hand.”

The third promise comes from Paul’s writing. “And [the Lord] has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore , I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9, NASB). The promise being made here is that we should rely on Christ. We often get caught up saying, “If only I could do _______, it will all be better.” But there’s a problem with that statement. We can’t do anything. We must fully rely on the power of God and acknowledge that we are nowhere near His greatness. Paul says that he will boast in his weakness, so that the power of Christ can be shown. If people know that we are weak, when we overcome, who deserves the credit? You or God?

“When through fiery trials Thy pathway shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, Shall be they supply.
The flames shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine.”

The final Scriptural promise in this hymn is Hebrews 13:5, “Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,” (NASB). This promise is the same one that I’ve been talking about all week. Jesus is with us, and he isn’t going anywhere. God’s promises can be trusted because He stands firm and will not fade away. So build your life upon His promises, and see how much better you life becomes!

“The soul that on Jesus hate leaned for repose,
I will not, I will not desert to its foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.”

 

Psalms to Pray: Psalm 19-20

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The Letter to Smyrna

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Today’s message is quite short. Jesus is speaking to the Church in Smyrna. Smyrna is located in what is currently known as Turkey.

Jesus offers them encouragement through suffering about to come their way. Their biggest enemy was going to be the Jews. The is constantly a theme through the early days of the Gentile Church. Not that the Jews were against it, but Paul always speaks against Jewish practices in the life of a Gentile Christian. Jesus says to the Church, “Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulation for ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life… He who overcomes will not be hurt by the second death.” (Revelation 2:10-11, NASB).

What does this mean to us today, you may be asking. Well, it seems to me to burst the bubble of the “Prosperity Gospel”. This is teaching that if you believe in Jesus, life is going to be easy-breezy. You won’t have any hardship or troubles. If you do, than you don’t believe in Jesus hard enough. This teaching is completely against the actual teaching of the gospel. Jesus says that we must pick up our cross daily and follow him (Luke 9:23). He goes on to discuss how suffering is apart of the game. All, but one, of the twelve apostles died a martyr’s death during the first century AD.

But Jesus offers us the same comfort he did to the Smyrnans (I’m not sure that’s what you’d call them, but it works for me). We must be faithful to Christ through the hard times. He doesn’t promise to lead us only through the good times; he’s also there in the bad.  If you are going through rough times, it’s even more important to keep your faith.

Reminds me of a hymn called God Will Take Care of You. Take a listen below

 

His Name is Immanuel

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Before I even get started with today’s post, I would like to say that today is a special day for The Heart Man. Today is the 100th blog post!!!!!!!!!!! Woot Woot!!!!!!!!!!!!

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In this time of year, lots of people talk about Jesus’ birth, and pretty much read Matthew 1-2 and Luke 1-2:20. Instead I thought I would go a little farther back, about 700 years before the birth of Christ!

Judah is under the threat of war. Both kings from Ephraim (Israel) and Aram are rising up against King Ahaz and Judah. The prophet Isaiah came to the king and told him not to worry. God did not want the these other nations to succeed. He even mentions that Ephraim only has 65 years left. So God told Ahaz to ask for a sign of God’s promise, but he did not wish to do so. The Isaiah said to Ahaz, “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14 NASB).

I remember the first time I read that verse. I grabbed the closest writing utensil next to me, a red pencil, and drew an arrow and wrote “JESUS!” in my Bible (at this point I would refuse to write in my Bible, so yea, I got pretty excited).

But there is something here that is not so easy to see. God told Ahaz to pick anything. It could be as extravagant as he wanted. He could have requested that the stars be realigned to say “God will protect you!” and God would have done it. When Ahaz refused to pick a sign, God offers a child born of a virgin. That alone is pretty miraculous! However, God took it one step farther. The child’s name is Immanuel (or Emmanuel if you prefer). But do you know what his name means? Immanuel means “God with us”.

Essentially God told Ahaz, “If you won’t pick a sign, then I am coming to you in human form.” Jesus is just that. He is God among man. God shed Himself of His glory and humbled Himself to become man. He did this to defeat the enemies (sin) that rise up against us. Our God is a god that fulfills His promises. Even if that means He has to become a man in order to complete them.

Take a moment today, and all throughout the season of Advent to revel in the fact that God was with us, in a little baby called Immanuel.